Singapore DharmaNet Homepage

No Death, No Fear by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh from No Death, No Fear, page 125-126:

Ask yourself, 'Where shall I go after this?' Our actions and our words, which are being produced at this moment, take us in a linear direction. But they also take us in a lateral direction as they flow into and influence the world around us. They can make the world more beautiful and bright. that beauty and brightness can go in to the future. We should not look for our real selves in just one vertical direction.

When I make a pot of oolong tea, I put tea leaves into the pot and pour boiling water on them. Five minutes later there is tea to drink. When I drink it, oolong tea is going into me. If I put in more hot water, making a second pot of tea, the tea from those leaves continues to go into me. After I have poured out all the tea, what will be left in the pot is just the spent tea leaves. The leaves that remain are only a very small part of the tea. The tea that goes into me is a much bigger part of the tea. It is the richest part.

We are the same; our essence has gone into our children, our friends, and the entire universe. We have to find ourselves in those directions and not in the spent tea leaves. I invite you to see yourself reborn in forms that you say are not yourself. You have to see your body in what is not your body. This is called your body outside of your body.

You do not have to wait until the flame has gone out to be reborn. I am reborn many times every day. Every moment is a moment of rebirth. My practice is to be reborn in such a way that my new forms of manifestation will bring light, freedom, and happiness into the world. My practice is to not allow wrong actions to be reborn. If I have a cruel thought or if my words carry hatred in them, then those thoughts and words will be reborn. It will be difficult to catch them and pull them back. They are like a runaway horse. We should try not to allow our actions of body, speech, and mind to take us in the direction of wrong action, wrong speech, and wrong thinking.

If you look for yourself like that, you will be able to see your continuation into the future. You will not be caught in the idea that you will be annihilated. You will not be caught in the notion that you will not exist anymore when you die. The truth is that you are not permanent, but neither are you annihilated. When the flame of the candle reaches the end of the wick and goes out, it is still there. You cannot find it by looking in a linear direction. You have to find it also in the horizontal direction.


Return to Singapore DharmaNet